Saturday, December 27, 2008

Simply having a wonderful ChristmasTime

(I could not resist this Playmobil Nativity set on clearance at Target yesterday)
Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas

This Christmas was different, no doubt about it....we had 75 degree weather on Christmas Day, a huge Christmas Eve family party, and not one but TWO Christmas trees. The kids have had a blast celebrating this holiday with cousins, grandparents, and Aunts and Uncles galore and so have we enjoyed actually having quite the selection of family parties and visits this December. But it has also been a bit sad for me. I miss the snow of the Northeast and the frigid temperatures (yes, even those). I miss sitting by the fire and drinking hot cocoa and trying to stay warm. But mostly, I miss my dear, dear friends from the past almost 8 years we spent living away from MS. There is nothing quite like having a white Christmas, or walking on 5th Avenue in Manhattan seeing all the lights and Christmas displays. I'll never forget freezing my tail off one particular crazy December, waiting for.ever in the freezing cold for the lighting of the Rockerfeller Christmas Tree. That's another post for another day. Heh. Anyhow, I guess Christmas reminds me most of all our dear friends that were like family in both NY and RI. I'm an emotional sort of gal, so just pardon me for waxing nostagic while I think of Christmases past.

Here's the Christmas tree in all it's glory:

The kids talked me into getting this ginormous tree based on the fact that our living room has cathedral ceilings and can fit a huge tree. Me being a complete and total sucker when it comes to the kids, of course, said yes. The very nice man at Lowes even tied this bad boy right to van--climbed up on top and everything. I tipped him well. See, Jason was working and would not have time to help us get the tree for several days and me and the children just couldn't wait.

I love decorating a Christmas tree. I mean, I LOVE it. When Jason and I first got married I thought that he would have as much love as I did in decorating the tree, but quickly discovered that while he enjoyed looking at the completed results, he really didn't get into it like I did. So that has been my job every year and with the addition of each child, it gets more and more fun! This year, Hayden came over and helped since this tree was especially large. As you can see, I don't have a "theme" tree or any special way to decorate's way more fun to let the kids put the ornaments on and go for it! We were married 6 weeks before Christmas in 1999 and one sweet, dear lady from our church knew that we had zero Christmas ornaments and zero $$ for said Christmas ornaments, so she loaded us up with about 10 boxes of plain glass ball ornaments she had lying around. Do you know that those have become my favorite ornaments? We love to deck the tree with all the glass balls we can. Yes, we lose a few every year, but they are cheap enough to be easily replaced.
We also have a collection of German ornaments that have come from my brother David while he served in the military there over the past few years. These are also treasured and fun to see each year.
Another thing I love about our tree are the homemade paper cones with chocolates in them. As I said earlier, I have no rhyme or reason to tree decorating. I'm of a mind to hang everything you can on a tree. So one year ( I think 3 years ago) I got the idea to get pretty craft paper and make victorian-like paper cones with ribbon and fill with chocolate to hang on the tree. These cones have held up well and are so fun for the kids to see mysteriously filling through the holidays. I just love it! I have been known to save little tiny sheer present bags with drawstrings and hang those on the tree the next year with presents in them. Don't tell anybody how crazy I am! I guess I just love the fun of "finding" goodies in the tree.

I love the smell of Christmas greens. I have candles scented in these wonderful Christmas smells, but nothing really beats the true scent of a Christmas tree and greenery. I don't like the fake stuff, either. We tried an artificial tree for two years and it felt so...well, artificial. I know, I know....real trees are dangerous and definitely not cost effective, but I just. can't. help. it. I love a real tree. I love to make boughs and garland and wreaths out of real greenery. This year I discovered that Lowes and Home Depot collect the trimmings from trees they sell and "shape" and let you take them for free. Score! So I loaded up a van full twice to decorate the house. It was fun. I am by no means an expert at this, but there is something so nice about seeing your own handmade decorations hanging on doors and mantels, etc. It makes me think of the way things must've been done in olden times.

This is the "kid's Tree"--We hang out mostly in the den and sadly, the big tree was in the Living room. So.....not much time was spent enjoying the big tree. I decided late into the season that we needed a tree for the den and the kid's really wanted to decorate one all by themselves. Trees like this go on sale for $5 at walmart about a week before Christmas.

This is a picture of the children right before Christmas. I love my kids so much. There is just nothing that compares to being a mother and having these beautiful children in my life---I'm so incredibly blessed by them.

This next set of pictures is cousin Hayden and cookie baking night. We had a Blast! Hayden was lamenting the fact that flour kept getting all over his "good" shirt, so I found him a child's apron, which led to finding a child's play chef hat. He is quite the baker and rolled, cut, and loaded up cookie sheets faster than I could retrieve them from the oven. We turned up the Christmas music really loud and danced the whole way through, too. It was such a fun night!

So this next set of pictures is the Christmas Eve party, aka Kid Bash 08! I wish I had taken pictures of the total MOUNTAIN of presents, but I was busy in the kitchen. We had so much food, I'm sure 100 people could have eaten. Thanks to a kind family in our church, we had a wonderful honey baked ham that I didn't have to worry about cooking. It was delicious. We also had every sort of cheesy goodness casserole, rice casseroles, dips, spreads, you know....the same stuff you probable had. It was all so good and fun to be around Jason's family this Christmas. The tv vascilated between "A Christmas Story" and "It's A Wonderful Life," both my favorites.

I thought I lost Judder there for a moment in all the chaos of present opening. But we found him. Here he is on his new truck. The next picture is him playing with a top that was baby Reese's present. He's a present snatcher.

Mason playing with the playmobil

Emmy playing with Dori's dollhouse. I think she stayed in there most of the night. :)

Noah and Kelsey

Jason making Reese cry, lol.

Christmas morning came TOO early. Like 5:45am early. I am the one who usually sets everything up and fills stockings, so I waited patiently for the kids to fall asleep. This process took a lot longer than usual because the children were wired from our Christmas party. It took even longer, because Dori kept coughing and gagging and sputtering and so had to get up every 30 minutes to go to the bathroom. Let's just say it was a long night. I think she finally made it to bed and got to sleep around 1am. Whew. I won't say what time I finally hit the sack. Christmas morning they all piled in bed with us (except Judson) and were as excited as you can imagine.
I don't have many Christmas morning pictures, because the truth is I was so delirious and sleepy from the night before that I forgot to take much. I actually think these pictures were taken by Jason....I don't really remember, lol, such a haze.

This is Micah playing the new Wii. He fell on the floor in dramatic fashion when he realized we had gotten one for them. Papa Neal is to thank for that!

More weapons for James

James couldn't take anymore by about 4pm. So funny, he's cuddled up with his light saber.

I made these Native American dress up shirts. The kids wanted some they had seen in a catalogue so badly, but they were super expensive. I had so much fun making these and it was so easy. One pack of brown t shirts, a hot glue gun, some beads and ribbon and scissors was all it took and Micah wore his all day on Christmas. The boys both got bows and arrows and a quiver to go with these.

We had a good Christmas. Still enjoying the time together and looking forward to New Years festivities.

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